N b'a fɛ ka

Why in Bambara when we say “I would like to” or “I want to”, do we add an a after the ?
Like in the sentence “n b’a fɛ ka taa so”?


The short answer is because that is the way that things are in Bambara/Manding.

The is cataphoric pronoun; it refers to the a thing that is going to be said (but has not yet been said). It’s a little like saying “I want (it) to go home” where the “it” refers to what you want (that is, “to go home”).

This is done because because is actually not a verb. It’s a post-position (frequently glossed as chez in French, but the range of meanings is larger) that is used to express the concept of what is a verb in English and other Western languages.

If you want to learn more about why this is (and how things may be changing slightly), I did a full blog post about the expression in the context of attempts to translate “I love/want you” in Bambara:

2 posts were split to a new topic: X bɛ fɛ ka